Bottarga, a traditional delicacy of both Sicily and Sardinia, is the salted, pressed and dried roe pouch of grey sea mullet. Sometimes called "poor man's caviar," mullet bottarga has full flavors of fish and sea. Milder than tuna bottarga, it is slightly nutty, briny and aromatic.
To make bottarga, the roe sack is removed whole from the fish, packed under sea salt to draw out moisture, gently pressed under boards and then hung to dry for several days. This ancient curing process preserves the roe and ages it much like a fine prosciutto!
Slice, shave or grate mullet bottarga on top of crostini, scrambled eggs, pasta, risotto and fish stew (just as you would do with Parmesan cheese). To create beautiful ribbons, use a vegetable peeler or truffle slicer. Then scatter the pieces over fresh tomatoes and mint. Or, work some grated bottarga into a paste with olive oil and add it to linguine with clam sauce or a bowl of pasta drowned in melted butter.
How to store leftover bottarga: Rub down the cake with good quality olive oil, wrap it first in plastic and then in foil and store it in the refrigerator. Rubbed once a week with olive oil, it should keep for at least three months.
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